SINGAPORE: PREFERENCE FOR RACE IDENTITY
Chang, H.Y., National University of Singapore, Singapore
In a national survey that I conducted in Singapore about 12 percent of the adult respondents (aged 21-65) indicated that if given a chance, they preferred not to be born into their native races. Most of these "step- outs" wished to be Caucasian. The "step-out" rate for the younger generation was even higher: Nearly 20 percent of the students surveyed registered their interest in shifting to a different race; and again, most of them chose to be Caucasian. Three general categories of factors are found to have a significant effect on this remarkable phenomenon: (1) the status attraction of the Caucasian race in the present world system, (2) the strengths of the counter-pull of the native races, and (3) competing cultural influences. In the light of Weber's discussion on ideal types of behavioral orientation, I argue that the preference of Singaporeans for being or being not Caucasian is a choice made under the regulation of their behavioral orientations and that their orientations have been substantially shaped by their interaction with the three specified categories of life conditions.